Wednesday, January 02, 2013
“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14–15).
Scripture Reading: Luke 15:11–24
We live in a world where people are accustomed to hearing bad news. The front pages of our newspapers are filled with the accounts of tragedies that produce suffering for individuals, families, and whole nations. Much of the time allotted to newscasts on radio and television is utilized to communicate bad news. One would get the impression that bad news is more important than good news.
On this first week of the new year, let us focus our minds and hearts on the good news about God. God is the God of good news. To hear the good news about God can cause us to have kind feelings toward him and can create a deeper faith in him as we face the uncertainties of the road ahead. Some people associate nothing but bad news with God because the devil has been misrepresenting the nature and character of God from the dawn of human history. Some listen only to the suggestions of Satan concerning the nature and purpose of God.
Some people associate God only with their guilty conscience. Their dirty, evil past causes them to fear God and to dread the possibility of a confrontation with him. Their pride prevents them from asking forgiveness for their sins. Their misunderstanding of his nature and character makes it difficult for them to believe that God has purposes of love and mercy toward them. Today we will look into the Bible to discover some good news about God so that our hearts may be encouraged and that some may find it possible to put faith and trust in him.
The wise men and the prophets of the Old Testament recognized and responded to the good news about God: “You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ ” (Isa. 40:9 NIV). We hear Isaiah speaking in a similar tone of voice again and again. “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ ” (Isa. 52:7 NIV).
The greatest good news about God is revealed in the coming of the Christ. While Zechariah was in the temple, a divine visitor announced to him the mighty work of God that was to happen in the immediate future. “And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings” (Luke 1:19). On the night when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, an angel appeared to shepherds in a field and said, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10). The Bible is a record of the activity of the God of good news.
The English word gospel means “the good message.” It denotes the good tidings of the kingdom of God and of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus on the basis of his substitutionary death, his burial, his victorious resurrection, and his ascension back to the throne of the Father. All of these events and the interpretation of them are wrapped up in this word gospel, which is the gospel of God.
1) The good news about God was spoken in the garden of Eden following Adam and Eve’s sin.
We read of how God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). Here we read of the divine decree to defeat and destroy the evil that had come into the world to rob Eden of its beauty and humankind of their privilege of fellowship with God. At the very dawn of human history, God was announcing that there was hope and that a plan had been designed for forgiveness, redemption, and deliverance. The God of good news had spoken.
2) The good news of God was announced to Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3).
Paul affirmed that the gospel was preached during the days of Abraham: “Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you’ ” (Gal. 3:8 NIV). The God of good news was seeking to penetrate the minds and hearts of people during Abraham’s day. From the beginning, God intended that his people be a missionary people. He desires that they be involved in communicating the good news of his love to those who are in spiritual darkness and despair.
3) God announced the good news to Moses.
A study of Exodus 3:6, 8, 10 indicates the redemptive program of the gracious God who was planning to deliver Israel from the tyranny and bondage of Egypt. This was wonderful news for people in slavery.
Moses, like many modern followers of Jesus Christ, offered a number of excuses as to why he should not be personally involved in communicating this good news about God to Israel.
Moses offered the excuse of a lack of personal fitness: “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh?” (Ex. 3:11).
Moses offered the excuse of inadequate knowledge of the nature and character of God (Ex. 3:13).
Moses offered the excuse of a lack of authority (Ex. 4:1).
Moses offered the excuse of a lack of speaking ability (Ex. 4:10).
Finally, Moses demonstrated his lack of faith as being his real reason for offering excuses (Ex. 4:13).
We read in the following verse that “the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses” because of Moses’ unwillingness to be a part of the effort to communicate the good news of deliverance and the promise of peace and victory to God’s people. We can be safe in assuming that our neglect to cooperate with God in communicating the good news concerning his plans for humankind is displeasing to him.
4) Jesus began and closed his ministry by emphasizing the good news about God.
From the very beginning, Jesus concentrated on announcing the good news about God (Mark 1:14).
Throughout his entire earthly ministry, he concentrated on communicating the good news of God’s love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, purpose, and power.
Following Jesus’ resurrection, he commanded his church to concern itself with the proclamation of the good news about God to all creatures and to take it to the ends of the earth (Mark 16:15).
5) The early church was excited over the good news from God (Acts 8:4).
The gospel was not good advice. The gospel was good news from God and about God that concerned people. The gospel was the good news about what God was doing in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ for the benefit of the human race. The early disciples were tremendously excited over their new understanding of the love of God that was so great that it brought Jesus Christ to die a humiliating death on a cross for them.
The early disciples were thrilled beyond words over the fact that in Jesus’ resurrection he had revealed that death was not the end and that the grave was not the goal of this life. Immortality ceased to be a dream or a hope. It became a reality that was very real and wonderful.
Now in Conclusion
The greatest news and the latest news from God is that he loves us. He has a wonderful plan for our lives. He wants to forgive us our sins. He wants to deliver us from the power of sin. He wants to grant us the gift of wisdom for renewed living. He wants to provide us with divine energy that will enable us to do the work that he would have us to do in the world today.
What have you done with the good news about God? Are you willing to respond to the Good News? God loves you. Accept this great truth with your mind. Put the confidence of your heart in it, and move forward with a new optimism and with a new spirit of faith, hope, and love as we march into another year for the glory of God.
God bless you all, Pastor Mike